Website Analysis – Humanitree Tree Service

Luke from Humanitree Tree Service contacted me asking for a website analysis, so here it is!

Overview

Humanitree Tree Service is a Richmond tree service company that offers full tree services including tree removal, lot clearing, stump removal, trimming, and even pet rescue. Where other companies simply grind down their trees, Humanitree uses their antique sawmill to create beautiful hardwood and softwood lumber to use in your home, or to donate to various organizations.

Screenshot of Humanitree Website:

Site Goals

The overall goal of the website is to generate online leads by contact form or by calling the listed number.

Design

Overall, I’d say the design is acceptable. It doesn’t really scream nature or environmentally friendly, but I wouldn’t say it’s hurting your business, either.

Minor improvements:

  • Change the font of your main navigation, since it is a little hard to read on some browsers and operating systems.
  • The slideshow on the homepage is okay, but doesn’t convey much information. You could add supporting headlines and text to each slide, and make each clickable to lead to your most popular services. For example, see this website’s homepage slideshow: http://www.americansealantsinc.com/

Branding

You don’t really have a memorable, unique logo. I highly recommend www.99designs.com if you’d like an affordable, great-looking logo.

A logo is the starting point for developing a unique brand, so if you develop a new logo, you should consider redesigning your website to align with it.

Your tagline is a little empty: “We remove trees with a purpose”.  Possible revisions:

  • Eco-Friendly Tree Removal and Recycling
  • Tree Removal With A Conscience
  • We’ll Find a New Home For Your Trees

Usability: Is the site easy to use?

Overall the website is intuitive and easy to navigate. Here are a few things you could improve:

  •  It should be obvious on every page what the next step should be, but you currently only have a call to action on your homepage. You should add a call to action to every page. This could be a big orange button that says “Request a quote” or “Schedule Appointment”, or you could embed the quote request form on the sidebar of every page.
  • Contact Us should be a top-level navigation item, right next to “The Sawmill” instead of under About Us.
  • Consider adding a Pricing page that at least gives a ballpark estimate for different services.
  • “The Sawmill” is kind of confusing. When I first saw it, I thought it was just a clever name for “Blog”, when it’s actually about your antique sawmill. You could rename it to “Our Sawmill”, “Urban Harvesting”, or “What is Urban Harvesting?”

SEO

I see that you’re using Yoast’s SEO plugin, so that’s perfect! Here are a few tweaks you can make:

  • Be sure to mention Richmond in your page titles, H1 tags, and in your content
  • On the homepage, replace “Who We Are” with “Richmond Tree Service” or “Richmond Tree Removal”, and make it an H1, since it’s currently an H2.
  • Change your permalink settings to remove date-based info.
    Okay > http://humanitreeservice.com/2012/02/02/the-top-ten-reasons-tree-removal-cost/
    Better > http://humanitreeservice.com/the-top-ten-reasons-tree-removal-cost/

Start using your blog as an inbound marketing tool. Each post you publish can target different long tail keywords and help you connect with potential customers. Here’s an article that really delves into this strategy: http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/long-tail-keyword-research

Architecture/Technical Review

WordPress is an excellent platform, so you’re definitely on the right track. However, your site is loading slower than it should, and Google has been using site speed as a ranking factor for a while now. Here are some suggestions for you to try and improve your site’s loading time:

  • Enable gzip compression on your server
  • Enable caching – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/
  • Delete any plugins that you aren’t using
  • Complain to your host about the speed of your site. They might be able to move you to a new machine, or track down what’s causing the issue.
  • If all of that fails, consider moving to a different host. I’ve been very happy with my HostGator business hosting plan, at roughly $10/month.

Content

Visitors have some key questions in mind when they visit your website:

  • Am I in the right place? Can this company help me?
  • Can I afford this? How much will it cost?
  • Why should I hire Humanitree instead of Company X?

With that in mind, you might want to add more information to each Tree Service page. The more, the better (two sentences isn’t enough, like on the Tree Removal page). Explain the benefits of each service, describe the process in detail, the steps you take, add photos of jobs you’ve done in the past, include pricing and customer testimonials, and make sure the visitor understands why you’re the best company for the job. Include a call to action on every page to try to seal the deal!

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • Make a separate quote request form/schedule appointment form, so visitors don’t have to find your contact form or call you.
  • Be sure to setup Goal tracking in Google Analytics if you haven’t already
  • Consider setting up a unique phone number for internet leads. That way you’ll know if that number rings, it’s because of your online marketing efforts.

Conclusion

That’s about it! Did I miss something? Do you agree or disagree with anything? Tell me what you think in the comments below, and let me know if you’d like me to analyze your website.


New ecommerce website launched for Fort Wayne retailer

Check out the latest addition to my portfolio: Beastmaster Rodeo, an online shop that sells rodeo gear, bull riding equipment, custom bull ropes and custom chaps.

Portfolio entry | Live website »

Homepage Design:

Beastmaster Rodeo - Ecommerce Web Design


WordPress Now Unicorn-Approved

Great news from the WordPress community: as of version 3.1, WordPress is now Unicorn Approved.

Other new features are illustrated in this great infographic from WPMU.org:


New website launched for American Sealants, Inc.

I’m happy to announce the launch of the new website for American Sealants Inc, a leading supplier of silicone sealants and adhesives. This was a great project, the guys at ASI were (and are) some of the best clients I’ve ever had, and I got to use a lot of the shiny new tools in WordPress 3.x, including custom taxonomies and custom post types.

This is one of the best websites I’ve launched to date, thanks to the assistance of Hari Luker and Jeremy Wilson in providing professional copywriting and photography, respectively.

One of the highlights of this project was creating the little color chips that are visible in the sidebar of each individual product:

 

ASI provided me with samples of each of their silicone colors.

ASI provided me with a bristol board containing samples of each of the colors they supply. I scanned the board into my computer, then used the eyedropper tool in Photoshop to grab an exact color match. I then used the gradient tool to try to simulate the glossy finish of each color.


Finally, I built a custom tool from the WordPress admin panel that allows them to simply check off which colors are available for any given product. When the page is loaded, it checks which colors are available and replaces them with the visual color samples.

Color Picker Tool:

ASI can easily control which colors are available for a given product

It might not seem like much, but it’s these little touches that really separate a Studio 625 website from the rest.

Thanks for reading!


Web Design Showdown – Apple vs. Microsoft

The following screenshots were taken from the Internet Archive’s records for Apple and Microsoft. Take a look at how both companies have changed over time:

1996/1997

The internet archive didn’t have any records for Apple in 1996, so you’re seeing Apple’s 1997 website next to Microsoft’s 1996 website.

1998

Apple adopts a drastically simplified, center-aligned design. Microsoft ditches the yellow sidebar.

1999

Apple promotes the colorful iMac. If you watched any TV or movies during that time, you’d think it was the only computer ever made. Microsoft pushes IE5, which will give Netscape a run for its money (if only there were money in the browser market).

2000

Apple adopts a top navigation bar. Genius! Microsoft looks about the same.

2001

Microsoft adds some more saturated color, and further expands the little rounded corner swoop thing.

2002

Microsoft adds more blue and takes away all other colors. Apple experiments with a blue version of their logo.

2003

Apple adopts their grayscale logo.

2004

Apple uses some strange reasoning in their promo headline that makes me think “Wow, the rest of my life can suck now”. Microsoft makes some major changes, dropping the “Microsoft Home | MSN Home | Subscribe | Manage Your Profile” navigation menu, and adding some serious color and much clearer calls to action.

2005

iPod frenzy and Microsoft tries to be more warm and fuzzy.

2006

The year that the Mac vs. PC ads started, reflected in the smug headline on Apple’s website.

2007

Apple continues to rock the giant header, and Microsoft finally adopts a center-aligned design. I’m fond of center-alignment on just about everything but Wikipedia and web apps.

2008

2009

2010

That’s all until next year! Post your thoughts, critiques, or comments below.


New website for Fort Wayne military equipment company

I recently redesigned the website for Tippmann Ordnance Co, a Fort Wayne-based company that manufactures and designs paintball-based military training equipment such as grenade launchers, mortar launchers, suicide bomber jackets and roadside bomb simulators.

For more information, view the completed site or my portfolio page.


The Not-So-Mythical Fold

In the past, I’ve been a staunch defender of the idea that “the fold” is an outdated concept in web design. I celebrated this article on the subject, which essentially boils down to the fact that website users know how to scroll and will scroll, given enough visual cues that there is additional content on the page.

However, I’d like to add another guideline regarding the fold:

“Make sure that each page’s primary function is at least partially visible above the fold.”

I was recently tasked with redesigning the contact page for Polar Leasing (a refrigerator rental company), because the marketing director had a hunch that something wasn’t right.

The original page:

On the original page, the contact form is pretty far down the page, after the general contact info. My theory is that the user would  scroll past the Flash header until he or she  saw the company phone number or live chat, and then either use one of those contact methods or leave the page. Because there weren’t any visual cues hinting at a contact form below, most users weren’t even aware of it.

The redesigned page:

Here are the changes I made:

  • Removed the Flash header so it didn’t take up as much space on the interior pages
  • Moved the address, email, phone, fax, and live chat information into the right column
  • Moved the contact form to the top of the page
  • Made the form more prominent by applying a light blue background

The fold for 1024 x 768 users was originally just below the “Find your state representative” link; now it’s just below the comments field on the contact form.

The Result? 3.5 times more contact form submissions per month.

By increasing the prominence of the page’s primary function, I increased the conversion rate of this page by a significant margin. What are your thoughts? Do you have any examples of similar “fold redesigns” or realignments of purpose?


Web design collaboration for Unity Performing Arts Foundation

Studio 625 recently collaborated with Eric Hall at EH Design & Consulting to redesign the Unity Performing Arts Foundation website. UPAF wanted a design that would appeal to a younger audience as well as potential investors. I created two designs for Eric to work from as he builds a killer WordPress site with lots of cool features like embedded video, upcoming events, featured content areas and more.

Currently the new website is on the back burner, because the Voices of Unity Youth Choir has been invited to participate and represent Fort Wayne and the USA at the 6th World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China, July 15-26, 2010. For more info, visit UPAF.com/gold

For now, you can preview the new design here.


Website redesign for Women of Grace USA, a Northeast Indiana non-profit organization

Studio 625 launches a freshly redesigned website for Women of Grace USA, a nonprofit organization located in Northeast Indiana. Women of Grace is dedicated to worldwide missions, girls’ discipleship and Christian leadership training.

Their old website was powered by Contribute, which is great for simple websites, but they had outgrown it. Studio 625 updated the website design and integrated the new site with WordPress, so they could establish some consistency in their cross-site linking structures and have an easier time maintaining order, utilizing WordPress’s page management and heirarchy features.

We also helped to bring the various blogs and resources scattered across the internet under one roof, by pulling in RSS feeds from Women of Grace’s three blogs.

View the live site for Women of Grace →


The Best WordPress Form Plugin: Gravity Forms

As far as WordPress plugins go, there aren’t many that I’d be willing to pay for. Gravity Forms is a different beast altogether. It actually makes creating forms fun.

Fun. Like when you finally take off those painful shoes at the end of the day, or when you start using a hammer instead of your forehead to drive nails into the wall.

Today, I needed to send a questionnaire to a prospect (based off of this excellent article), and was about to fire up Word and create a form. Instead, I created a new form with Gravity Forms, and about 15 minutes later, here’s what I got: http://www.studio625.net/new-client-questionnaire/

It’s got drag and drop field creation, validation, conditional logic, form submission emailing & routing, and conversion tracking right out of the box. Plus lots of other stuff that I’m sure I’ll use in the future.

So yeah, if you’re on WordPress, go buy a copy of Gravity Forms. You won’t regret it.

Update:

Since I wrote this article eight months ago, I’ve used Gravity Forms on every single website I’ve deployed (hooray Developer’s License!). Nearly every website will need some kind of response form, since that’s the primary way of getting value out of a non-ecommerce website. It makes sense to use the best plugin available for the job, and there’s so much flexibility here that you shouldn’t need anything else.

Also, I’ve started using Gravity Forms to get signatures from clients. I simply put the contract into a password-protected WordPress page, embed the form at the bottom and restrict it to one submission. The  client gets a link, reviews the contract, and signs the form. Everyone gets a copy of the signature and the contract remains online for future reference. So much easier than the email > print > sign > scan > email routine that often happens when dealing with customers outside of your area.

Conclusion:

I realize this is starting to sound like an advertisement, but the level of quality in Gravity Forms in a world of poorly-supported WordPress plugins is simply amazing, which is why I can wholeheartedly say that it’s the best form plugin available.